Windy City, here they come.
Clayton Kershaw recorded the final two outs of the game on one-day rest earning his first career MLB save and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals, 4-3, in dramatic fashion to advance to the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.
In one of the greatest and most thrilling games you will ever see, the NLDS came down to a heart-pumping Game 5 full of surprises, countermoves, and high-pressure moments.
"That was one of the best games in history," said Dodgers first baseman Adrian Goznalez. "Dave used our entire team. We have been preaching a team all year long and today was the epitome of that. Everything about that game was for the history books."
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After trailing early, 1-0, the Dodgers looked hopeless against likely NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.
Things turned on a dime in the seventh inning thanks to a leadoff solo home run by Joc Pederson.
"I figured a fastball was coming because I haven't got a hit off one," Pederson said of the crucial at-bat." I was able to do that and hit one the other way."
The blast chased Scherzer from the game and a few batters later Carlos Ruiz came through in the clutch again with a pinch-hit go-ahead RBI.
The pivotal inning reached an apex when Justin Turner hit a two-run double off the wall in centerfield and the Dodgers broke the game open with a 4-1 lead.
But the Nationals would not go quietly into the Washington D.C. night and they came back with two runs of their own off Grant Dayton in the bottom of the seventh.
After a leadoff walk on four pitches, Dayton threw a fastball right down the wheelhouse and former Dodger Chris Heisey crushed it into the seats in left field for a two-run homer.
"Everything that happened and all the guys that were used. Going ahead, and getting the lead and then Heisey hits the big homer," Turner said of the emotionally draining game. "It was unbelievable."
In a surprising twist, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went to closer Kenley Jansen in the seventh inning to try and record a nine-out save.
"Where they were at in the lineup, I wanted to go to our best arm in the pen," explained Roberts of his decision to go to Jansen in the seventh. "I trust Kenley, I believe in him. I told him to give us everything he had tonight and that's what he did."
Jansen gave it his best effort, retiring the next seven outs, but he ran out of gas in the bottom of the ninth, walking Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth and leaving the game after throwing a career-high 51 pitches.
"I just tried to give it everything I got," Jansen would say after the game. "I wanted that ball in the seventh. I wasn't thinking about the ninth."
Then, in a moment straight out of a Hollywood classic, Clayton Kershaw came out of the bullpen to take the mound less than two days after he threw 112 pitches in Game 4.
"In the 8th inning, Clayton came to me and said he feels great and that if Kenley is going to be stressed, he can get the last couple outs," added Roberts.
Kershaw disappeared from the dugout while Jansen was on the mound, likely warming up in the visiting batting cage. He remerged after the eighth in his cleats and a warmup jacket.
"When Kenley was sticking his neck out there in the seventh, I felt like I need to have his back," Kershaw said of pitching the last two outs in the ninth. "It's an adrenaline rush, but we have eight more to go."
Kershaw faced a tremendous task, runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth and his kryptonite, Daniel Murphy at the plate.
"Kenley wanted the ball in the ninth, but when the first guy got on I saw Kershaw was in the pen," Turner said of that inning. "It gave me goosebumps. He's the guy we want with the ball, so for him to get the final out was awesome."
The three-time Cy Young Award winner got Murphy to pop up and then struck out pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo to get the save and send the Dodgers to the NL Championship Series on Saturday in Chicago.
"All year long the narrative of our club has been everybody picks one another up," Roberts said later. "So it's only fitting for Clayton to get the last out right there."
Julio Urias became the youngest pitcher to take the mound in the postseason for the Dodgers and threw two scoreless innings of relief to record the win. The victory made the 20-year-old Urias, the youngest pitcher to win a postseason game in MLB history.
"This kid is 20 years old, I checked his birth certificate," joked Roberts when told of the record stat. "He hasn't pitched in two weeks and he came and got us huge outs. This kid doesn't scare off."
It's hard to remember now, but Rich Hill started the game on three days rest and did a sufficient job before leaving in the third inning.
Hill stepped down off the bump allowing one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts in just 2 and 2/3 innings. It was the shortest start by a Dodger in the postseason since Hiroki Kuroda lasted just 1 and 1/3 innings in Game 3 of the NLCS in 2009.
The 2016 Cy Young favorite in the National League did not factor in the decision, allowing just one run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in six strong innings.
"That was the craziest game I've ever been a part of in my career...in my life," a disappointed Scherzer said at his locker. "I gave as good an effort as I've ever given in my life. This one is a tough one to be on the wrong side of."
Los Angeles won the last two games of the NLDS to advance to the Championship Series in the National League against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Players of the Game:
Justin Turner: Two-run double, 13-pitch walk.
Joc Pederson: Solo home run
Carlos Ruiz: Go-ahead single
Julio Urias: Two scoreless innings of relief.
Chris Heisey: Two-run home run
Kenley Jansen: 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Clayton Kershaw: First career save.
1. Julio Urias Youngest Dodger in Playoffs: At 20 years young, Julio Urias became the youngest pitcher to take the mound in the postseason since Don Gullett (19 years, 281 days) in the 1970 World Series. Urias is the 6th youngest to pitch in the postseason in MLB history and the youngest in the Dodgers franchise history.
2. An NLDS for the Record Books: The 2016 NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals has seen a lot of records set. First, the most amount of hit batters for one postseason series (11), most pitchers used in one inning (6) and most pitching changes in a series (50?)
3. You Can't Write This Stuff: Clayton Kershaw has one other save in his career as a professional baseball player. It came in 2006 when he was playing for the Gulf Coast League Dodgers in the minor leagues against the Gulf Coast League Nationals and Kenley Jansen was his catcher as he recorded the final out.
Kershaw' first save since 2006 for the Gulf Coast Dodgers over the Gulf Coast Nationals. Guess who his catcher was? Kenley Jansen. — Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1) October 14, 2016
Dodgers (3-2): Los Angeles advances to the NLCS to face the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field. Kenta Maeda is expected to start Game 1.
Nationals (2-3): Washington's season comes to and end but should hang their heads high after a tremendous NLDS series.